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07 February 2012

my body, my skull

My body has long been my enemy. It has been a less-than-appreciated vessel for my soul, distinct from my Self and not what I would have chosen.

Parts of it are ok. I like being built like a woman, moving like a woman. I like sex as a woman very much. I hate - have always hated - that I have a uterus. If it would just be still and stop with that cycling crap, we would have been fine. The damn thing nearly crippled me when I was twenty-eight. I had to convince a surgeon to scrape its walls out before it would leave me alone. And still, it presses on my spine and makes life uncomfortable. But at least I can function now, and I don't have to fear pregnancy.

Oh yes, I feared pregnancy. Hated the whole concept - spend nine months destroying the parts of my body I liked, just to spend more eighteen years feeding a parasite that would demand all of my time and questionable resources? No thanks. Not my cup of tea. As I got older, I thought about it a bit more charitably. I knew I had no maternal drive, no concept of how to socialize with any children, nevermind raise one. I came to believe children were precious, and should be raised by other people. People who actually wanted that kind of work. People who didn't mind if their body didn't pop back into shape afterward. I was not one of those people.

The day I learned I was pregnant, I began a not-slow descent into clinical depression. The docs called it post-partum depression, when they noticed it. I disagreed, and didn't take the prescription. My dog ate it, all thirty day's worth, less than a week later. I called the doctor's office because I wanted to know if my dog would be ok. They thought I had tried to overdose and wanted more pills. They tried to send me to drug counselling. I stopped going to that doctor.

I tried to play the mother role for my child. I still try. I'm a terrible actor. It's a little easier now that I'm not changing diapers and the primary concerns are psychosocial. Almost nine years in, I'm starting to feel like maybe I can play this role convincingly enough to raise a happy child.

I'm barely even bitter anymore.

To be clear - I have never blamed or harbored any resentment toward my child. I blame myself. I blame my child's father, to a lesser extent. My child deserves better than the two of us.

My body will never be as healthy as it once was, but I suppose I've made my peace with it. I'd like to do better by it.

More, I'm curious about people who feel as though their body is integral to their Self. What does that feel like? Can I get there? Do I want to? It seems wierd.

When I was a child I wanted to be a boy. Menstrual cycles sounded gross and terribly inconvenient, and giving birth sounded like a horror show. Boys got to pee standing up and fight. I wanted to be like Bruce Lee, but my body would never be that capable.

Dancing convinced me that being a woman had perks. I liked being feminine, once my body started to take that shape and I learned to move in ways men could not. Whatever else stripping did to me, it taught me to love the shape of my body. I became downright vain. I made less money than other strippers, because I had more fun. I danced - not many strippers do that because it's not what makes their money. That was the closest I have ever been to feeling at home in my body.

Having my child taught me to throw my vanity away. I wouldn't have survived with it intact.

... Perhaps all this is why skulls interest me on such a strongly emotional level. They seem almost to be the other side of my equation; instead of souls barely inhabiting their body, they are the body souls cling to. The remnants of a soul are almost palpable in a bone, especially a skull. What causes these souls to cling so forcefully to their defunct bodies? Will I do the same?

There is something indescribably precious about these remnants; they give me hope.

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